Kafka’s The Trial

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Franz Kafka’s novel of power and alienation ‘The Trial’, in which readers follow the protagonist Joseph K into a bizarre, nightmarish world in which he stands accused of an unknown crime; courts of interrogation convene in obscure tenement buildings; and there seems to be no escape from a crushing, oppressive bureaucracy. Kafka was a German-speaking Jew who lived in the Czech city of Prague, during the turbulent years which followed the First World War. He spent his days working as a lawyer for an insurance company, but by night he wrote stories and novels considered some of the high points of twentieth century literature. His explorations of power and alienation have chimed with existentialists, Marxists, psychoanalysts, postmodernists - and Radio 4 listeners, who suggested this as our topic for listener week on In Our Time.

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  • Elizabeth Boa No other episodes
    Professor Emerita of German at the University of Nottingham
  • Steve Connor 3 episodes
    Grace 2 Professor of English at the University of Cambridge
  • Ritchie Robertson No other episodes
    Taylor Professor of the German Language and Literature at the University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Kafka's Clothes: Ornament and Aestheticism in the Habsburg fin de siecle
    Mark Anderson (Oxford University Press, 1992) Google Books →
  • Franz Kafka's The Trial
    Harold Bloom (ed.) (Chelsea House, 1991) Google Books →
  • Kafka: Gender, Class and Race in the Letters and Fictions
    Elizabeth Boa (Oxford University Press, 1996) Google Books →
  • Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature
    Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (University of Minnesota Press, 1986) Google Books →
  • Kafka's Prozess
    William Dodd (University of Glasgow, 1991)
  • Kafka
    William Dodd (ed.) (Longman, 1995) Google Books →
  • The Essential Kafka
    Franz Kafka, John Williams (trans.) (Wordsworth Classics, 2014) Google Books →
  • The Trial
    Franz Kafka, Mike Mitchel (trans.) (Oxford World Classics, 2009) Google Books →
  • Letters to Felice
    Franz Kafka, Elias Canetti (Penguin, 1978) Google Books →
  • Kafka's 'Trial': The Case against Josef K
    Eric Marson (University of Queensland Press, 1975) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to Kafka
    Julian Preece (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2002) Google Books →
  • Kafka: Judaism, Politics and Literature
    Ritchie Robertson (Clarendon, 1985) Google Books →
  • Franz Kafka
    Walter Sokel (Columbia University Press, 1966) Google Books →
  • Kafka's Travels: Exoticism, Colonialism, and the Traffic of Writing
    John Zilkosky (Palgrave, 2003)

Related episodes

Programme ID: b04pv8j1

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04pv8j1

Auto-category: 833.912 (German fiction – 1900-1999)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Quote, somebody must have been telling lies about Joseph Kay, for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested.